Why Intel doesn't make Mobile Processors?

Intel is an established processor developing company. They make super fast and efficient processing units for computers and laptops for a long time. So, why didn't Intel come into the Smartphone Market? They don't lack in technology or vision. So, what is the reason behind this? Let's go deeper.

Why Intel doesn't make Mobile Processors?


Intel is an American Multinational Corporation and Technology Company headquartered in Silicon Valley. It is founded on July 18, 1968. Since then, it is the world's largest and highest valued semiconductor chip manufacturer based on revenue. 

Fun Fact: Intel is the developer of x86 based chipsets, and they have reserved all rights of that design. But Intel has licensed x86 processor architecture to AMD because it doesn't want to create a monopoly in the market.

Why Intel doesn't make Mobile Processors?

The reasons described below are enough to understand why Intel doesn't make mobile Processors:

  • A modem is the most complicated chip in a mobile chip which requires extensive R&D concerning communication protocols, and it requires a long history and patented products to excel in the market with the best data rates and voice clarity and Qualcomm leads in this area, and have the knowledge, it's difficult for any company to excel in this area in a short time, and going into the future that is 5G it requires a lot of investment in R&D to develop a modem in the 5G technology,
  • Since the beginning, Intel’s focus is on high processing power irrespective of power consumption, whereas mobile platforms require the least or lower power consumption with less heat dissipation for long life and for the product to become a hit.
  • In today’s World, a Mobile SOC is the most complex chip compared to a computer chip. A simple quad-core mobile chip has at least 16 different chips connected and formed a SOC that apart from the 8 processor for Software Management, 8 other processors which perform various other function, one dedicated processor for playing audio, one for video, one for WiFi, etc.

Intel x86 Processors Research

Intel has invested billions of $ in R&D on X86 processors that create an exit barrier for Intel to leave x86 architecture. All desktop, laptop, server processors are designed on X86 architecture. These x86 architecture processors provide a lot of computing power but their power consumption is also too much. Mobile Systems can't afford too much power consumption and thus it makes it difficult to adopt Intel Processors in Mobile Phone Systems. Every Mobile making company tends to choose components based on lower power consumption rates and better output and Intel lacks in providing this.

That's why Mobile manufacturers choose processors based on ARM architecture to provide better computing power and low power consumption. 

Intel x86 Processors with Lower Power Consumption

Intel realized the demand for lower power consuming chipsets and thus began designing a processor that can provide better computing on low power consumption rates. M-series MacBook has this processor with no fan in it. But it was too late and ARM had 99% mobile processor market share.

Why Intel doesn't adopt ARM architecture?

It is difficult for Google, Microsoft, Apple to maintain/update 2 mobile operating systems and software applications, one for ARM & the other for X86 architecture-based processors. But if every processor comes with similar architecture it will be easy for software to adopt the hardware from big-screen-sized PCs to small-screen-sized Smart Watches. 

Intel can license ARM architecture to design/manufacture processors for mobile phones/tablets, but it is not as profitable as X86 processors, the competition is cut-throat.

The End Notes

The world is changing from a computer-first to mobile-first. Intel also has to change its priorities and have to switch to ARM-based architecture. Or have to make their x86 based architecture efficient for mobile. The future is going to be tough for Intel if they don't change their mindset.

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